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Isaac Asimov - The Foundation Trilogy

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Isaac Asimov - The Foundation Trilogy

The Foundation Trilogy concists of:
1. Foundations
2. Foundation and Empire
3. Second Foundation
The Foundation Trilogy is an epic science fiction series written over a span of forty-four years by Isaac Asimov. It consists of seven volumes that are closely linked to each other, although they can be read separately. The series is highly acclaimed, winning the one-time Hugo Award for "Best All-Time Series" in 1966.
The premise of the series is that mathematician Hari Seldon spent his life developing a branch of mathematics known as psychohistory, a concept devised by Asimov and his editor John W. Campbell. Using the law of mass action, it can predict the future, but only on a large scale; it is error-prone for anything smaller than a planet or an empire. It works on the principle that the behavior of a mass of people is predictable if the quantity of this mass is very large (equal to the population of the galaxy). The larger the mass, the more predictable is the future. Using these techniques, Seldon foresees the fall of the Galactic Empire, which encompasses the entire Milky Way, and a dark age lasting thirty thousand years before a second great empire arises. To shorten the period of barbarism, he creates two Foundations, small, secluded havens of art, science, and other advanced knowledge, on opposite ends of the galaxy.
The focus of the trilogy is on the Foundation of the planet Terminus. The people living there are working on an all-encompassing Encyclopedia, and are unaware of Seldon's real intentions (for if they were, the variables would become too uncontrolled). The Encyclopedia serves to preserve knowledge of the physical sciences after the collapse. The Foundation's location is chosen so that it acts as the focal point for the next empire in another thousand years (rather than the projected thirty thousand).

Audio has 8 parts


Reviewer: Stev1eG - favoritefavorite - August 28, 2016
Subject: Good, Bad, Indifferent
Good - that this was even considered and made.
Bad - that it was not made well, it has been reduced to its most simplistic level, and acting seemed overly hammy. Obvioulsy has not dated well (including Foundation itself as it is overtly sexist in its social mores.
Indifferent - sound department let loose on maybe one of the first synthesisers that probably sounded modern at the time - at best the noises are grating.

In summary, I must re-read Foundation as I do not remember it being this bad. The radio series I guess had to over simplify and condense some aspects of it.
Reviewer: Spelvin - favorite - July 12, 2016
Subject: LOL
The books are rather hard to follow due to Asimov never making it quite clear as to what's going on or what people's motivations are, but concentration and a little re-reading make them somewhat worthwhile (although I think they're terribly overrated).

Could someone who never read the books possibly even begin to follow this radio version?!

I doubt it, but what do I know? Anyway, this is frighteningly boring.

The people who complain about the British accents deserve an LOL. It's very unlikely people will still be speaking English in the faroff future, never mind with what accent. I'm thinking the English of the future witll bear about as much resemblance to the English of today that the English of today bears to Chaucer's version of English.
Reviewer: MuppetMan - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 29, 2016
Subject: Great version
Ignoring the rather odd person who having seen this was a BBC production thinks reading should only be in an American accent? - obviously not aware what the first 'B' in BBC stands for!
This is, as has been pointed out, not a straight read audio book as opposed to a radio semi dramatisation and is an excellent listen.
An incredible series of books from one of the fathers of modern Sci-Fi.
Reviewer: judyt54 - favoritefavorite - April 21, 2016
Subject: Foundation and Empire
I have read the Foundation Trilogy several times over 50 years; I looked forward to this reading /performance, but as many of the reviewers have stated, the sound is of a very poor quality, and in order to hear the voices you risk being deafened by the swoopy noises that invade regularly. I'm not entirely sure why they were needed, but they do serve to remind me of "Space Cadet". Not in a pleasant way.

The voices, when they could be heard, were difficult to understand--Im good at accents and can usually pick up on what's being said (altnough why a British accent was used I have no idea) very easily. Often it sounded like someone was talking into his sleeve. What I could hear made no sense.

I lasted five minutes. This is an extremely complex trilogy, and attempting to make a radio performance out of it is a noble idea but for me it's a colossal disappointment.
Reviewer: pdunwin - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 12, 2015
Subject: Excellent BBC work
I enjoyed this series immensely, encountering none of the quality problems I saw in other reviews.

The Foundation has never been my very favorite science fiction - I tend to prefer a bit more focused scope, I guess - but I liked listening to them. Part of the enjoyment I gained from this that others might not is that a good number of the actors for this series also voiced characters in the BBC's radio play of The Hobbit.
Reviewer: djebel - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 3, 2015
Subject: the saga of thatacoman's opinions (and the derision thereof)
when Andy Kaufman was at the zenith of his fame, as a comedian in the 70s, he hit up colleges for gigs all over.
A literal FUCK TON the kids just wanted to see him mime 'The Mighty Mouse Theme," as he had done on SNL. Or they'd yell 'Do Latke, you schmuck!' Because, dammit, they had paid their $3.75!!!
This was similar to yelling "Play 'Creep!' you British idiots!!!" at on tour between the release of My Iron Lung ep and The Bends as they were opening for REM's 'Monster' tour in '94.
***I know it's pretty much the same thing as heckling Andy K.***
=-=mainly cuz i was one of the knobs yelling for Radiohead to play 'Creep.'
do you dig?=-=
So...I digress: the point is: tacoman, you would cry at what Mr Kaufman would do often, when heckled: he would tell the crowd that if they didn't knock it off, he'd read 'The Great Gatsby' start to finish.
Guess what, T-man???
He'd read the whole damned book to a shrinking crowd!
You'd have, like totally despised the dude.
(main review) »»»This seminal British radio drama is quite possibly the best approach to the interpretation of such an easily comprehending work whose primary difficulty in filming is the millennium spanning narrative,
It is a cartrip family tradition of mine.
Reviewer: tidalwaves999 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 9, 2015
Subject: Excellent
I've read the novels and this adaptation is truly wonderful. Everything and everyone involved really gave it their best and it shows. I almost wish radio drama was popular again just to hear performances like this, thank you!
Reviewer: David Yelland - - September 14, 2015
Subject: Great production but should it be free?
This radio dramatization was produced by the BBC and is currently on sale. Why is it available here for free? Sadly this appears to be an example of the dark side of the internet.
Reviewer: fabio_milan - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 11, 2015
Subject: fabio_milan
Read this book as a teenager and again in my early 20s. It's awesome I can listen to it again in my 40s, when I do not have time to do so in any other way. Loved the books, loved these audiobooks. BBC is great.
Reviewer: TheBookworm - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 26, 2015
Subject: Foundation
Takes me back to the '60s getting ready to watch Dr. Who on BBC to the sound of Phil Grainer's theme music and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. It's soooo British! And i mean that in a good way.

Some of the sound effects are indeed overly loud, but that's part of its quirky charm. It's a Brit thing.

TheBookworm (Manchester, UK)
Reviewer: swolfearch - favoritefavoritefavorite - September 24, 2014
Subject: painful but still enjoyable
Technically one of the worst audio experiences I've had. OK, it was a radio play, but it often sounded like the mike was in front of one of the actors, while a second person was in the far corner of the room. I had to max the volume to hear the quiet voices.

Worse were the sound effects. I liked them, as they gave a nice retro feel to the production. Unfortunately, they often were several times as loud as the normal voices, so when I had the volume up so I could hear all the players, the sound effects felt like they were going to break my eardrums.

Despite the audio problem, I enjoyed this performance of one of the great sci-fi stories. As noted, I liked the retro sound effects, lots of strange sounds, and often what sounded like teletypes in the background. Who would have thought then that printers would make no noise?
Reviewer: The Old Gaffer - - June 25, 2014
Subject: Response to Tacoman
Tacoman's review, though passionate, offers us zero information regarding the sound quality/entertainment value/writing/acting/etc. of this particular drama.
Nonetheless, there are certain points which ought to be addressed in relation to his comments about audiobooks: certainly audiobooks and radio plays are very different media; however, Tacoman's supposition that audiobooks are by their nature inferior (and that this should be obvious to anyone who has a brain), is absurd. Audiobooks (and yes, even a live reading...heaven forbid!) can be, and often are, equally as entertaining and stimulating as any other media. Why? For one, because they exercise a completely different part of the imagination. More is left of to the imaginative ability of the listener/reader with audiobooks than nearly any other medium, and those of us who have a taste for that find it exciting. Secondly, audiobooks give us a glimpse into the mind of the author and the cultural significance of the book in a different way than dramatic reproductions can. We get the exact words the author intended: the pacing of the story, the way he or she uses words to paint an environment or create suspense and tension. We get the little nuances of the way he or she writes that are unique to that person; we learn about how language was even used at the time period and place whence the book is from. When we listen to an audiobook, we are experiencing a part of our (Humankind's) artistic and cultural heritage. Seeing a reproduction of a Rembrandt is great; so is seeing the original painting.
Can audiobooks be boring and poorly made? Of course. So can radio dramas. So can movies. So can comics. So can theater productions.
The point is, Tacoman: Don't belittle someone just because they thought this was an audiobook and it turned out not to be. And don't give audiobooks a negative review just because you don't have the imaginative capacity and cultural appreciation to enjoy them.
Reviewer: thetacoman - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 13, 2013
Subject: Excellent
This is a superb audio play by the BBC.
Some individuals may not be familiar with the concept of "radio drama." Well, that's what this is. It's not an audiobook.

Plain audiobooks are the MOST BORING things on earth and I don't understand how anybody can even stand them, and why anyone would choose to listen to a plain reading instead of a dramatic production.

That would be like watching some guy sit there and read a book out loud for two and a half hours instead of watching a movie that is based on the book.

Don't give this a negative review just because you didn't research it ahead of time and it turned out not to be the exact type of presentation that you were expecting!
Reviewer: RickMattox - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 8, 2013
Subject: Under appreciated production
I for one have listened to this production multiple times. As for the British-ness of the production - yep (an I like that fact). As for the background sound effects - I find they add to and not distract from the story. The story does unwind slowly and methodically. It is not an American blast you out of your seat, over the top, special effects, no substance, brain dead production. It is Asimov. Asimov was a visionary and this fact comes thru in this story. I highly recommend the trilogy in book form and this production as a good representation.
Reviewer: scififan43 - favorite - November 6, 2013
Subject: Isaac Asimov BBC radio version
Asimov fan since late 50's. Would read the book version. However, I will wait for the TV or movie version.
Reviewer: pegz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 3, 2013
Subject: Not A Lot Of People Know That.......
I remember hearing this when it was first broadcast, Sunday nights on radio 4. Brilliant stuff :~)

"Not many people know that" dept. -
This broadcast was the direct inspiration for the now legendary Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, which was written as a spoof.........
Reviewer: dougp01 - favorite - August 7, 2013
Subject: Sorry
I was expecting a reading of the books. Instead I got an ear full of background sound effects which were at times quite loud and detracted from the actual reading. Pause for effect can be disregarded as well.
Reviewer: Out of Stone - favoritefavoritefavorite - July 23, 2013
Subject: Let Planet Man sort it out
Sorry, bored me to tears. Listened for 40min and couldn't stand it any longer - like a bunch of intergalactic councillors discussing (with uncontrolled variables) the tax and waste-disposal plans for the coming millennium. Cool sound effects though.
Reviewer: alln4tural - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 9, 2013
Subject: BBC Radiophonic Workshop
i thoroughly enjoyed listening to this, not least for the early synthesizer sounds created by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop

there was a time i would have considered them a bit cheezy, but i've come to appreciate the pioneering aspects more. the music here is really quite experimental, in the best possible sense.

The series was first broadcast in 1973, btw, as far as i can tell.
Reviewer: toby jug - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 24, 2012
Subject: BBC English...
The English language as spoken in this BBC production, produced for a British audience is seen as a negative ...I must start complaining that American radio shows are all in American accents........
Reviewer: Sal Migondis - - August 24, 2012
Subject: BBC English..!
.. and languid acting do not work for me. Pity, since the production.. sound quality of the recording.. adaptation.. etc. are otherwise commendable.
Reviewer: Ed 999 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 2, 2010
Subject: Impressive adaptation
The three novels which make up the original Foundation trilogy were written as a magazine serial between 1940 and 1950, for a science fiction magazine edited by the legendary John W Campbell. They were thus composed as a series of short stories, giving them a number of advantages over the later books by which Asimov added to the story forty years afterwards.

The short story format of the initial books, which are the ones adapted for this dramatisation, mean the tale continually builds toward a dramatic climax, for several magazine serials were included in each book. Thus the story reaches a frequent dramatic cliffhanger, not merely at the end of each novel: a significant advantage when it came to adapting the trilogy in eight parts for broadcasting.

The linking "story arch" in the trilogy was guided by John W Campbell, the legendary S-F editor and publisher, and himself a celebrated author. Campbell's powerful influence, coupled with the limited page space available in the magazine format, forced a discipline upon Asimov that his later books lack; and in literary terms this was a very significant benefit.

The production values of the BBC's radio adaptation are impressive. The production also benefits greatly from having eight hours of air time, enabling most of the key plot elements to be included. Even so, a good deal of background detail does have to be omitted. Some of that detail is noteable in its absence, leaving the characters struggling a little for motivation.

One compelling theme of the trilogy is missing: namely the constant awareness the central characters have of the dead hand of Seldon, and of events running out of their control. And the guiding principle of the trilogy, that each situation is going to culminate in a 'Seldon Crisis', tends not to be emphasised enough.

Perhaps no adaptation can be wholly satisfactory to someone familiar with the books upon which it's based, if those books have genuine literary merit, which this trilogy surely does. Yet someone who has not read them will probably notice nothing amiss. These matters notwithstanding, this is surely one of the best of adaptations.
Reviewer: scottmi - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 14, 2009
Subject: good recording
it's always a delight to find a clear and easy to understand recording. A good, very complete, version of this classic story. The sound effects are vintage BBC sound labs.. a charming "dating" of the work.
Reviewer: bucketoclams - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 5, 2008
Subject: Lovely Radio Show
I have to admit to a bias. I've enjoyed Asimov's works since I was a kid, and it was his works that really got me started in science fiction.

The quality of the recording is excellent, and sounds just as if you were listening to it on an old radio in the parlor. This recording seems to have been taken from one of the earlier broadcasts (See the wikipedia article here: for information).

If, like me, you enjoy listening to a good story while doing other things, pick this one up.
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